What a fantastic run Karim Abdel Gawad has had since the 2016/2017 season started. I have always enjoyed watching him play because he has such excellent control of the ball. The “Baby Faced Assassin” is such an appropriate nickname for Gawad. He looks so relaxed and casual but if you leave the ball loose the point is over. At the start of this year’s world championship tournament he was certainly one to watch but I don’t think he was a favourite to win. I know I was certainly expecting Mohamed Elshorbagy or Ramy Ashour to win. Gregory Gaultier and then perhaps Nick Matthew would have been my next picks. I was wrong in those picks and should have been picking Karim Abdel Gawad. Congratulations to Karim Abdel Gawad as he is the 2016 PSA World Champion! Continue reading
We started carrying doubles squash gear a couple of years ago but have been busy increasing our selection this year. Being located now at Northfield Racquet and Fitness in Waterloo which has a beautiful new doubles court having a good selection of doubles squash gear is important for us. Doubles is an incredibly fun game that the members of the club have come to love and it is an incredible game to watch at the professional level.
Harrow Bancroft Players Special Squash Racquet
From a racquet perspective you might wonder what characteristics make a racquet a good choice for a doubles player. There are a few things to consider and most come back to the type of ball that is used in doubles. The hardball that used in doubles travels at an incredibly fast speed, much faster than the standard ball that is used for single. As it is hard and travelling at an incredibly fast pace the impact on the racquet from the ball is much greater and the racquet needs to be capable of withstanding that. As such one of the primary characteristics of a doubles racquet is that it is stronger and more durable so that the frame of the racquet withstands the stress caused by the impact of the ball. The strings also have to withstand the impact of the ball though. Stringing pattern and the gauge of the string are important when selecting a doubles racquet. Stability on contact with the ball is also important. Off centre hits can lead to the frame itself twisting if the racquet is not strong enough. This can lead to breakage but it is also a performance issue as it definitely impacts the control the racquet can provide. Continue reading
Harrow updated the cosmetics on the Harrow Spark Jonathon Power Signature Edition for this season. They have painted it Black and Yellow for this year. They have also changed the strings in this model. They have included Ashaway’s SuperNick XL Micro in this generation of the Spark. Having the SuperNick XL Micro is a positive in my books. I like 18 gauge string as it cuts in to the ball a bit better than a 17 gauge string. It also helps generating power.
I recently switched to the Harrow Spark after several years using the Black Knight Magnum Corona. The primary difference between these racquets is the lightness of the Spark. The Corona is, in my opinion, a fairly standard racquet in terms of weight and balance. The head is almost completely circular while the Spark is more oblong.
There is, of course, a trade-off with a lighter racquet. The Spark is a very “maneuverable” racquet, meaning you can hit the ball with a compromised or improvised swing and don’t necessarily need a full backswing to make good contact. However, to generate power you need ample racquet head speed. It took me a few weeks to adjust to this difference; the Corona was heavier and thus more powerful. Overall I prefer the freedom afforded by the Spark. It is much easier to dig the ball out of the back corners, and to hit the ball when it’s behind you (or otherwise non-ideal positions). Having to generate racquet head speed is also a good thing for shot consistency and accuracy. I would recommend it for players who feel their current racquet is sluggish or difficult to control.
Harrow Jonathon Power Custom Vibe Squash Racquet
The Vibe is a collaboration between Harrow Sports and Jonathon Power. It is a very light weight frame with a soft feel. Its weight is measured at 140g and that is strung. Most manufacturers measure the weight of their racquets before the string is put on but Harrow advertises the full weight of the racquet including the string. It comes with Ashaway’s Supernick XL string which is a good fit for this racquet.